Kocani Orkestar

[English] [français]

This brass band is amazing !
Coming from Macedonia, the KOCANI ORKESTAR mixes turkish rythms, bulgarian and oriental solos, creating on stage an authentic sound leading to dance and emotion.
"Between flamenco and free jazz, turkish brass bands and slavic lyrism, this gypsy music is confusing and fascinating." Libération

biography

The particular genius of gypsy, or Roma, musicians has long resided in their extraordinary ability to adopt and then transform the indigenous music of the various regions across which their long nomadic journey has taken them. Throughout eastern Europe, where the Roma people first arrived some 600 years ago, gypsy musicians have been the primary carriers of the folk tradition for centuries, liberally integrating musical styles and songs from a wide variety of cultures and different ethnic groups along their way.

Gypsy musicians have long had a reputation for being skilled imitators. But they also have the knack of forging the various forms and genres they absorb into a style that is uniquely their own. And by the very voracity of their borrowing, it has often been gypsy musicians who have kept the folk music tradition alive, when it might otherwise have faded into obscurity.

Almost half of the estimated eight million gypsies in Europe live in the Balkans, which gives the region the densest concentration of Roma people anywhere in the world. This has led to a rich culture of gypsy music which, in western Serbia and Macedonia in particular, manifests itself in some spectacular brass band orchestras. Such ensembles – often using battered old instruments passed down the generations – date back to the Ottoman occupation and have demonstrated a remarkable creativity in transforming the original, static style of the Turkish military bands, which they originally imitated, into something fresh and exciting.

Adding their own gypsy passion and rag-bag of global influences to local songs and folk dances, the result is a rambunctious, wild sound with an extraordinary complexity of rhythm that no military band would ever have contemplated.

In Macedonia the strength of the brass band tradition led the director Emir Kustirica to shoot his famous film "Time of the Gypsies" in the town of Shuto Orizari, the largest Roma settlement in the world.
Kocani Orkestar, Macedonia’s most accomplished and best-known gypsy brass band, featured in the film and take their name from a nearby town on the outskirts of Skopje, where such music is known to this day as romska orientalna muzika (‘oriental gypsy band’).

The line-up consists of two trumpets, one clarinet, one saxophone, four tubas and one tapan, a large double-skinned cylindrical drum, beaten in complex rhythmic patterns with a heavy stick in one hand and a thin switch in the other.

The group’s international recognition came after they were discovered by Michel Winter and Stefan Karo, the same team responsible for first bringing Romania’s much-loved gypsy troupe, Taraf de Haidouks, to world attention. Both acts are signed to Belgium’s Crammed label, which led to the Kocani Orkestar guesting on the Taraf’s Band of Gypsies album.

After Kocani Orkestar set out their stall on their debut album Long Distance, their critical breakthrough came with their acclaimed second release, L’Orient est rouge, a thrillingly unpredictable showcase of gypsy eclecticism, integrating original pieces into the traditional brass band repertoire, all played in a dazzling array of complex time-signatures. The title song came from China and there were Hindi film songs alongside their versions of local Macedonian dance tunes, as well as a terrific version of the Roma anthem, ‘Djelem, Djelem’.

The Orkestar has continued to go from strength to strength with a new and expanded line-up. Their latest album, Alone at My Wedding, explores the music that accompanies the three-day traditional gypsy weddings that still take place regularly all over the Balkan region.
With typical gypsy diversity, Turkish and Bulgarian rhythms are married to local folk dances, with even a dash of Latin flavour thrown in for good measure.

The record also finds the Orkestar transcending the strict boundaries of the brass band genre (not that gypsy musicians ever had much respect for boundaries of any description) by showcasing the talent of their new vocalis, the charismatic young Ajnur Azizov, who sings variously in Slavic, Turkish and Roma.

At the same time, they can rock like an untamed, mutant gypsy funk band, mixing James Brown-style brass riffs with oriental and eastern European influences. The thundering rhythm is provided by the tapan drum of Saban Jasarov and the four tubas of Redzai Durmisev, Nijazi Alimov, Sukri Zejnelov and Suad Asanov. Then there are passionate, wailing solos courtesy of sax player Durak Demirov, the two trumpeters Turan Gaberov and Sukri Kadriev, and Dzeladin Demirov on clarinet.

Live, Kocani Orkestar are an even mightier experience, and whether they’re playing at a gypsy wedding in Kocani or in the more sedate setting of a western concert hall, it apparently makes no difference to their feral approach.

Kocani Orkestar has been touring extensively throughout Europe and even Japan.
They’ve created a sensation at major events such as the Roskilde Festival (Denmark), Womad (UK), Sfinks (Belgium), Festival Jazz de La Villette (France), Lucerne Jazz Festival (Switzerland), Megaevento delle FAO Roma (Italy), Royal Albert Hall London (UK) etc., and more recently Les Méditerranéennes de Céret (France), where they’ve also performed pieces together with Khaled.
For more info on booking Kocani Orkestar outside from France, please contactDivano Productions.
Texte Alain Weber

concerts

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groups

Kocani Orkestar
Ajnur AZIZOV Singing
Raim ZEJNELOV Trumpet
DJeladin DEMIROV Clarinet, singing
Nijazi ALIMOV Saxophone
Redzai DURMISEV Baritone tuba
Sukri ZEJNELOV Baritone tuba
Suad ASANOV Bass tuba
Enis ALIMANOVSKI Tapan
Serchuk ALIMOV Trumpet
Nebi KANTURSKI Trumpet
Demir SHAKIROV Percussion
Vinko STEFANOV Accordion

Kocani Orkestar meet Paolo Fresu et Antonello Salis
Paolo Fresu Trompette, bugle, effets
Antonello Salis Piano, fisarmonica
Ajnur AZIZOV Singing
Turan GABEROV Trumpet
Dzeladin DEMIROV Clarinet, singing
Erol DEMIROV Saxophone
Nijazi ALIMOV Baritone tuba
Redzai DURMISEV Baritone tuba
Sukri ZEJNELOV Baritone tuba
Suad ASANOV Bass tuba
Saban JASAROV Tapan
Sukri KADRIEV Trumpet
Erdzan JUSEINOV Percussion
Vinko STEFANOV Accordion

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